Ironbridge Power Station: Summit next month over future of iconic landmark

A summit will be held next month to begin the process of finding a new life for the site of Ironbridge Power Station.

The cooling towers at Ironbridge Power Station
The cooling towers at Ironbridge Power Station

Representatives from Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin councils will meet in mid January to discuss plans for the site, which is currently in the process of being shut down by power firm Uniper.

The station sits within Shropshire Council’s boundary but the future of the development is key to neighbouring Telford & Wrekin Council, responsible for Ironbridge only minutes up the road.

Councillor Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member in charge of business and the economy, today said officers at the authority are in discussions with Uniper.

He said a dedicated stakeholder meeting will take place in mid January so officials can begin to approach those who might be interested in the site.

Councillor Charmley said Telford officials would be asked to take part. It is not yet confirmed if Uniper would attend the meeting, although the firm will be invited.

He said: “The meeting will discuss what will be taken away and what will be left on the site t so everyone is clear what the future holds. We need to start approaching companies to invest in the site.”

Ironbridge Power Station, which features a series of iconic cooling towers that dominate the valley landscape, was switched off on November 20, 2015.

Although calls have been made to retain the towers, demolition work is to begin in the middle of next year, and will take around three years to complete.

A number of suggestions have been made for the future of the site, including the development of Telford Steam Railway, which has expressed an interest in extending its line south from the current station at Lawley into the Ironbridge Gorge, providing new means of transport and a tourist attraction.

Councillor Charmley said he understood that high level conversations had already taken place between Councillors Malcolm Pate and Shaun Davies, the leaders of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Councils, over the need for the site to be a success.

He said: “I think Malcolm has had conversations with Shaun Davies of Telford about what we can do to promote the site. It is vital for the area.”

The future of the site is key to employment in the region as well as business rates, having provided a significant portion of Shropshire Council’s income.

Councillor Charmley said: “It is not just the size of the site and the employment that was there previously, it represents a huge chunk in our business rates for Shropshire, at about about four per cent. That is a big old chunk of income Shropshire receives so it is a vital site for us. It is vital we get it right going forward and get the right stuff in there.”

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Comments for: "Ironbridge Power Station: Summit next month over future of iconic landmark"

Roger

As daft as it might sound the obvious use is for a power station. wee may have stopped using coal but the replacement nuclear plants are not going to ready in time. We will need a generation of interim power stations, probably gas fired or we have a power gap.

My main worry abpout the closure of Iron bridge Power Station is the railway line. do we intend that we connect the Severn vally Railway north to Telford and how. will we put the the Iron Bridge gorge Museum on the railway map and ptovide Telford with it first park and ride by train facility. Will we use the existing line or connect in the Telford Steam Railway or make it possible to run steam specials between Worcester and Shrewsbury. Are Network rail prepared to keep the line or will it need to be a local effort.

All that might sound a bit Anorak but the main infrastructure that goes to the site is the railway. The roads are not good and it's on the wrong side of the river for Telford.. Is Shropshire or Telford prepared to construct a new river bridge to enable the redevelopment of the site? There are existing bridges but they are probably inadequate for any intensive development. The site is big enough to build a town larger than Ironbridge.

You could build a theme park like Alton Towers in one corner with it's own railway station and do without the traffic that curses Alton Tower. The site could be used as an inland holiday resort. It is surrounded by holiday attractions and more could be added to make it a year round season.

we are dealing with something on the scale of Clive barracks in Tern Hill except this time we already have the housing and infrastructure to build on. It is bigger than any single company would want and building the infrastructure without a tenant is a gamble. Neither Shropshire or Telford have money to gamble with so it really does need a solid investment plan.

It really needs central government money and that means the DTI and Department for Transport should be involved. Roads railways and tenants are what are needed.

cumulusspark

I think it should be re-commissioned and bought back on line as a working power station. Nuclear power will not be available till after 2020, wind and solar power will not be sufficient to supply the future growth of the country. The power station should never have closed especially after having a vast amount of money spent on it converting it from coal to biomass.

Roger

I assume that was a misprint. Hinkley Point is the first of the big nuclear stations and it may not be in service before 2030. it takes ten years to build a nuclear station and this design is not yet proved reliable.

I certainly see scope for a smaller gas fired plant at Buildwas using liquified gas transported to site by train from Swansea. Gas is not the cleanest or best way of producing power but there is no doubt we have a electricity power gap. I fear it is one of these problems that requires some money spent on it now without any return before the end of this parliament, so beyond politician's horizons. Why Buildwas - because they can connect to the nation grid there, and it has the railway to supply it. As an existing power station planning permission is not the same problem as a green field site. They can start tomorrow if they want to. Build in on the land contaminated by the coal storage.

woodhall

It worries me that the same people who are intent are destroying the area with too much new housing and waste of money projects like Southwater, will have a major say in what happens at Ironbridge.

I hoped that as it fell in the Shrewsbury and Atcham area, that the Telford lot would not have much say.

It needs someone with a vision to lead the way. My suggestion would be to keep the cooling towers and make them into useful buildings, museums, cafes for visitors etc. I would remove the power station building once it was deemed never to be re-commissioned, and make a sports area and park to cover the contaminated land.

I would make a proper park and ride for visitors, which would keep cars out of the wharfage, and encourage those who refuse to use the park and ride at Jiggers Bank.

The show stopper would involve the railway line. I would install a turntable. I would encourage the Severn Valley Railway as well as the other steam preservation societies, and the National Railway Museum to run steam specials to Ironbridge weekends and bank Holidays.

When I lived at Warwick in the 1980s/1990s, there were steam specials run every weekend from Marylebone to Stratford and featured all the main line steam engines that had current licenses and boiler certificates.

With the recent interest in the Flying Scotsman, imagine steam trains coming to Ironbridge during the summer months. It would need these larger stakeholders to be involved because of maintaining the track, or permanent way.

Whilst the Horsehay group have shown interest, I doubt they could offer a real feasible option, yet they could offer something if the larger players were to be encouraged to get involved.

There is also the possibility of a local train service to the site from Birmingham and Shrewsbury.

What the project needs is a team with foresight, not a group who just count how many houses they might be able to build.